Right of Way Program

Edisto Electric Cooperative, Inc. (EEC) proactively engages in a system-wide right-of-way maintenance program to provide safe and reliable electric service to its members – all day, every day.

We provide electric services with over 3,291 miles of power lines to more than 19,000 meters within 2,500 square miles of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Providing cost efficient and reliable electric service to our members is challenging because the terrain varies and is covered with many fast growing species of trees. Our well-managed right-of-way maintenance program helps EEC provide its members with safe and reliable electric services.

While trees add to the beauty of our communities, they are also responsible for costly property damage as well as dangerous and inconvenient power outages. In fact, tree failure is by far the leading cause of outages. A tree that grows into electrical conductors presents a potential hazard to you and others if it becomes energized when contacting a power line. Our electric system performed admirably during the most recent ice storm in January, 2004, in large part due to our proactive right-of-way program. The right-of-way program is a critical part of your everyday reliable electric service and is a critical part of our business, but most importantly, it is a critical part of your safety – for your family, friends and neighbors.

In the strict sense of the word, right-of-way refers to the land on which infrastructure is built. Infrastructure could be anything from a highway, airport or power lines. Projects such as power lines, pipelines or telephone facilities all require right-of-way.

EEC uses right-of-way to build and maintain power lines. We maintain right-of-way areas by controlling brush and tree re-growth in all easement areas. Right-of-way is usually on private land and is obtained by an agreement with the current landowner when new poles and wires are installed. EEC doesn’t own the private land, but is legally granted the right by the landowner to maintain brush and tree re-growth.

Edisto Electric has a legal obligation to provide safe and reliable electric service to our members. This obligation could not be met without a commitment to an effective right-of-way program.

With the vast size of EEC’s service area and its diverse terrain, a well maintained right-of-way program is a critical part of our everyday functions. It is important to have clearance between trees, brush and power lines and poles, so your power stays on. If the power does go out, a maintained right-of-way helps our line crews spot the cause of an outage so they can get your power back on more quickly. Thick brush and trees in easement areas limits access and cuts efficiency and safety for line crews. Before crews can fix a power outage, they need to drive or walk every piece of line before turning on the power or it could be harmful or even fatal to a line worker or yourself. If line crews can’t access the lines because of poor right-of-way, the member is more likely to be without power for a longer period of time and more often.

Edisto Electric’s right-of-way program is managed by Clint Smoak, Supervisor of Maintenance and Metering. Clint has been employed by the cooperative over 21 years and carries a commercial license from the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Right-of-way maintenance is accomplished through side trimming and removing trees and limbs, bush hogging underbrush to allow access, and the use of environmentally friendly herbicides. Urban areas are maintained utilizing a two-year cycle and rural areas are on a four-year cycle. EEC spends over $400,000 dollars a year trimming, treating, and clearing right-of-way.

Our right-of-way clearance is 15 feet on each side of the power line. If trimming needs to be done the tree should be left in a healthy state, with some aesthetic value. If this cannot be accomplished, we may opt to remove the tree if it is cost effective rather than create an eyesore and future problems. A danger tree is one that is partially dead, shows sign of rot, or has insect infestation, cankers, eroded root systems, conifers with brown needles, or is a deciduous tree that will no longer leaf out and clearly will cause damage to a Edisto Electric power line that can create an unsafe condition.

Our crews pay special attention when evaluating the line clearance before trimming or removing a tree. The National Electric Safety Code requires us to follow a certain amount of clearance around wires and trees. This can depend on voltage, the tree’s growth rate and other characteristics, and the re-clearing cycle – how frequently it will need to be re-cleared. In cases where we’ve encountered large established trees on right-of-way, we have found that the removal of limbs helps to redirect the future re-growth away from the wires, thereby eliminating the need to remove the entire tree. This also keeps maintenance costs to a minimum while helping to insure that the tree won’t need drastic trimming in the future.

Need help? Call us at 1-800-433-3292 or email info@edistoelectric.com